Spicing Up The Stage

Latin Ballet Takes To Local Schools

Posted: December 13, 2012

Forget images of porcelain-skinned ballerinas pirouetting daintily to the tune of classical music — the dancers of the Latin Ballet of Virginia will spice up the stage with their visit to Harrisonburg city schools this month.

 They’ll samba and salsa through performances and workshops Thursday and Friday for students at Smithland Elementary, Skyline Middle, Thomas Harrison Middle and Harrisonburg High schools, eventually finding the spotlight in a public performance of Fiesta Del Sol at HHS on Friday at 7 p.m.

The daytime performances will offer Valley students a chance to experience a Mexican folktale, “The Legend of the Poinsettia,” which describes the “true spirit of giving at Christmastime,” according to Jeremy Aldrich, Foreign Language Coordinator and teacher with Harrisonburg City Public Schools.

“The evening performance [of Fiesta Del Sol] will bring us a little heat in the winter, featuring music from Spanish-speaking cultures,” Aldrich says.

Although the level of professionalism is higher than a grade-school assembly venue, HHS Spanish teacher Phil Yutzy calls it an opportunity “anybody would enjoy.” He helped bring the company to Harrisonburg through grants from arts groups and commissions, and with the support of fellow principals.

“As a Spanish teacher, I’m excited to see all these elements of Latino culture come together,” he says.

Latin Ballet of Virginia director Ana King shares that passion for enlightening young people about Latino cultures. “This fits exactly with our mission and purpose to exist,” she says: to tell stories based in historical, cultural learning through uplifting performances.

“From a learning standpoint, we want our students to grow in their appreciation of music and dance as a type of language, and to understand that cultures can be similar and different,” says Aldrich.

While educating is important, the company’s ultimate goal is to spread happiness, King says. Music and dance educates you, but makes you happier … That’s the message of the Latin ballet, to make people happy.”

Aldrich agrees. “Whether these were music and dance styles you grew up with or not, we want everyone to have a good time and leave tapping their feet and smiling” he said.

“It’s one more way of celebrating the richness that Harrisonburg’s cultural diversity brings to our lives.”

For more information on the Latin Ballet of Virginia, visit latinballet.com.

For information on the HHS presentation of Fiesta Del Sol, call the school office at (540) 433-2651.

Contact Samantha Cole at 574-6274 or scole@dnronline.com.

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